Today's Veterinary Business

DEC-JAN 2017

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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43 December 2017/January 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Whether your annual budget is $500 or $50,000, planning how money will be raised and spent will help keep you on target throughout the year. • Choose the funding struc- ture: After you have clarified your desired mission, eligibili- ty criteria and annual budget, the final step is to determine the best funding structure. 501(c)(3) Formation One option for a veterinary hospital looking to generate and manage funding for patients in need is the creation of a formal, separate and tax-exempt charity — one desig- nated a 501(c)(3) by the Internal Revenue Service. While this might be the appropriate choice for large- scale charitable missions, it is not an endeavor to enter into with carefree abandon. The process of earning 501(c)(3) status requires significant paperwork and an organizational structure, including obtaining a new employer identification number (EIN), filing quarterly tax documents, creating a board of directors and by- laws, and registering with your state, to name a few. Federal and state regulations will dictate how the money and services are managed. In my experience, the appli- cation process takes about a year to complete and requires a law- yer and an accountant. Once the approvals are received, the orga- nization can officially be called a charity, actively solicit tax-exempt donations from clients and com- munity members, and apply for local and national grants. In-House Angel Fund At the other end of the spectrum, hospitals may create an in-house account to fund cases deemed ap- propriate. The fund is often seed- ed by the practice or a generous client gift and is then replenished through employer, employee and client contributions. This can be a great introductory step for creating a culture of goodwill in the prac- tice or a way to rein in an existing culture of excessive and destructive discounted services. While this is a popular option among veterinary hospitals, note that angel funds are not charities and that marketing them as such could have legal consequences. Employee and client contribu- tions towards in-house funds are not tax-deductible. And because the accounting does not have third-party oversight, proceed with caution if you choose to solicit donations from clients. Third-Party Charitable Fund Veterinary practices not interested in creating a 501(c)(3) but open to a tax-exempt, legally sound option for client donations can consider the Goldilocks route: joining a third-par- ty charitable fund. This option can benefit the practice not only by removing the bulk of the admin- istrative work but also by possibly leading to larger client donations because of the tax exemption. The two I see most frequently used are the Veterinary Care Foun- dation and the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's Veterinary Care Charitable Fund. The core of each is the same: Clients donate to the third-party fund and earmark the contribution to be used by a particular veterinary hospital. The Take Charge columnist Abby Suiter is practice manager at Daniel Island Animal Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. 3 H.R. challenges and what you can do Recruiting, training and retaining quality employees is an ongoing challenge for veterinary practices of all sizes. Successfully doing so, though, is crucial if a practice is to thrive. Kellie Olah, PHR, SHRM-CP, explains what you need to know about managing millennial employ- ees, instituting drug testing and granting paid leave. Learn more at ONLINE EXCLUSIVE hospital then spends the money on eligible cases. Promote Your Goodwill Regardless of whether you plan to ask for public donations, remember to tell clients about the good work your practice is doing in the com- munity. While marketing charitable efforts may feel uncomfortable or counterintuitive, letting the public glimpse your heart can build valu- able goodwill — something that is difficult to achieve in the exam room. Wondering how to better reach pet owners in their 20s and early 30s? Millennials, more than any oth- er generation, research and become loyal to companies that advocate for causes important to them. If you do not tell them, they will never know. All too often, our profession is unfairly cast in the negative light of being "all about the money." While I have never met a veterinarian who fit that description, it seems to have somehow become a common misperception. Be intentional about publiciz- ing the extra mile you have gone for your charitable cases. Praise the associates, technicians and support team members who had a hand in making a positive difference in the lives of your patients and clients. Tell your story and help rebuild the reputation of veterinarians everywhere, all while fulfilling your passion and caring for the people and animals close to your heart.

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